Music

Song lyric and research: Mulher Rendeira

Mestre Pernalonga and Contramestre Rafael Xikarangoma released their second joint album last week, titled “Era Eu Era Meu Mano, Era Meu Mano Mais Eu – Volume 2”. It is a sequel to their hit album of a few years ago (2017 I think), which you can still hear in every capoeira school. The new album is again filled with beautiful capoeira music, both new and common songs.

One of the songs that I recognized immediately from the previous album is “Mulher Rendeira” (which translates to “woman lacemaker”), or as some call it “Lampião Desceu A Serra”. It is a song Contramestre Rafael has sung on several occasions. Since the song caught my ear again, I decided to learn it. In this article I dive deeper into the lytics of Mulher Rendeira and its origin.

Now, as with so many capoeira songs, Mulher Rendeira is an adaptation of an older song which exists outside of capoeira. Let’s take a look at the different versions that are out there.

Original song

First things first, let’s have a listen to the original version.

Portuguese

Olê, mulher rendeira
Olê, mulher rendá
E a pequena vai no bolso
E a maior no embornal
Se chorar, por mim não fica
Só se eu não puder levar

O fuzil de Lampião
Tem cinco laço de fita
No lugar que ele habita
Não fartá moça bonita

English

Olê, woman lacemaker
Olê, lace woman

The small one goes in the pocket
The big one goes in the bag
If you’re going to cry, don’t stay for me

Only if I can’t take you

The rifle of Lampião
Has five fita ribbons
In the place where he lives
There’s no lack of pretty girls

History

As you can read above, the song has something to do with Lampião. Mulher Rendeira, also known as “Mulé Rendera” in local dialect, is a Brazilian Xaxado song. Xaxado is a folkloric dance from Pernambuco. The song has a bit of history to it which can be found on the Portuguese Wikipedia page. I’ll paraphrase the description here:

“According to Lampião’s biographer and a historian, it was Lampião himself who composed the original verses of the song in honor of the birthday of his grandmother, who was a lacemaker (“rendeira”). He composed the song between September 1921 and February 1922. The song then quickly gained notoriety as it grew to be the war anthem of Lampião’s gang of bandits (“cangaceiros”). It is even said that more than 50 bandits sung Mulher Rendeira repeatedly while approaching the town of Mossoró during their famous attack in 1927.”

This recording is the oldest we know of and dates back to 1957. The song is attributed to Volta Seca, once a member of Lampião’s gang. So we can be pretty sure this version is as close to Lampião’s own verses as possible.

Adaptation in popular music

According to this article, there currently exist over 120 versions in 7 languages of Mulher Rendeira! That’s quite amazing considering the origin. Some more recent versions are those by Elba Ramalho, Demônios da Garoa. Trio Nordestino and Cida Moreira. They all have more or less the same lyrics, which differ slightly from the version above.

Portuguese

Olê, mulé rendera
Olê, mulé rendá
Tu me ensina a fazê renda
Que eu te ensino a namorá

Lampião desceu a serra
Foi dançá em Cajazeira
Encontrou Maria Bonita
Que virou mulé rendera

As moças de Vila Rica
Hoje têm ocupação
Gosta de vê Maria Bonita
Namorando Lampião

English

Olê, woman lacemaker
Olê, lace woman
You teach me how to make lace
I’ll teach you how to love

Lampião went down the mountain
He went to dance in Cajazeira
He met Maria Bonita
Who became a lacemaker

The girls of Vila Rica
Today they are busy
They like to see Maria Bonita
Flirting with Lampião

This time, the song is about Lampião who comes down a mountain to go to a party where he meets his future girlfriend Maria Bonita. In the version below, it’s more or less the same story with a different take.

Portuguese

Olê muié rendera
Olê muié rendá
Tu me ensina a fazê renda
Que eu te ensino a namorá

Lampião desceu a serra
Deu um baile em Cajazeira
Botou as moças donzelas
Pra cantá muié rendera

As moças de Vila Bela
Não têm mais ocupação
So que fica na janela
Namorando Lampião

English

Olê, woman lacemaker
Olê, lace woman
You teach me how to make lace
I’ll teach you how to love

Lampião went down the mountain
He threw a party in Cajazeira
He placed the damsels
to sing mulher rendeira

The girls of Vila Bela
Don’t have anything to do
They only stay at the window
Flirting with Lampião

Contramestre Rafael’s version

Now let’s take a look at Mulher Rendeira in capoeira. Contramestre Rafael uses more or less the same verses as the ones above, but he completely changed the chorus and replaced it with a simplified version of “ô sim sim sim, ô não não”. This makes it easier to learn and remember by beginners. It also fits nicely within the Lampião theme, since “ô sim sim sim” also has verses about Lampião.

(skip to 4:38)

Portuguese

Lampião desceu a serra
Deu um baile em Cajazeira
Botou as moças donzelas
Pra cantar mulher rendeira

As moças de Vila Bela
Não têm mais ocupação
Passa dia, passa noite
Namorando Lampião (?)

Ô sim não não
Olha pisada do Lampião
Ô sim não não
Olha pisada do Lampião

English

Lampião went down the mountain
He threw a party in Cajazeira
He placed the damsels
to sing mulher rendeira

The girls of Vila Bela
Don’t have anything to do
They only stay at the window
Flirting with Lampião

Oh yes no no
Look at Lampião’s steps
Oh yes no no
Look at Lampião
‘s steps

* I can’t make out the last line of the second verse, but it’s something else than “namorando Lampião”.

Tony, Pitoco & Formiga

These three capoeiras have some YouTube videos with really good music. In this video Professor Pitoco sings Mulher Rendeira as a corrido. Below the video you can find a part of the lyrics, all lyrics are available in the description on YouTube.

Portuguese

Olê mulher rendeira, olê mulher rendá
Juazeiro, tu te alembras como nosso amor nasceu?
Olê mulher rendeira, olê mulher rendá
Todo dia a tua sombra, conversava ela e eu
Olê mulher rendeira, olê mulher rendá
No tronco do juazeiro do lado do cacimbão
Olê mulher rendeira, olê mulher rendá
Inda hoje tá gravado dois nomes e um coração
Olê mulher rendeira, olê mulher rendá
Por detrás daquela tem uma casa pequenina
Olê mulher rendeira, olê mulher rendá

English

Olê, woman lacemaker, Olê, lace woman
Juazeiro, do you remember how our love was born?
Olê, woman lacemaker, Olê, lace woman
Everyday in your shadow, she and I talked
Olê, woman lacemaker, Olê, lace woman
In the trunk of the Juazeiro, next to the waterhole
Olê, woman lacemaker, Olê, lace woman
Even today it is engrave with two names and a heart
Olê, woman lacemaker, Olê, lace woman
Behind that one is a tiny house
Olê, woman lacemaker, Olê, lace woman

As you can see, there can be quite a lot to discover when you decide to learn a new song!

— Vinho

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.